Monday, August 30, 2010

NHI History Week T-Shirt Design Contest

Here’s a chance to connect your creative talents in the arts to history. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly NHI) is hosting a shirt design contest. The title is quite misleading as the winning designs shall actually be used for the coming 150th Birthday Commemoration of Dr. Jose Rizal next year. Nevertheless this is a sure fire way of involving the young people (the high school and college students) into activities involving our history.

For further details you can click on the photo or you can visit The best of luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Circuiting Manila 3: Malate Church

* the mighty façade of the Malate church

* the church lighting

* an aisle walk to the altar

The origins of this church can be traced back in the year 1588 when the Augustinian friars erected the church in the then village of Malate. The patroness of the church is Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Surprisingly, the image of the patroness in the church is still the original one, brought in the archipelago from Spain by a certain friar named Juan de Guevara in 1624, which survived many calamities and disasters of the past. These include the Chinese invasion (1662), the British occupation (1762), the earthquake on June 3, 1863 and the Second World War.

* a close-up of the altar but the detail of the patroness is unfortunately lost here

* one of the church’s side doors

* visits are not complete without the souvenir photo: Trailer Pransis posing

The church itself has not been that fortunate as the last of the series of its destruction was seen during the return of the American forces to finally defeat the Japanese in 1945. The first church and its accompanying convent was built in 1591 but later suffered damages from two major earthquakes in 1645 and 1863. During the British occupation, the British made the church their quarters. Total destruction of the church was witnessed during the typhoon in 1868. This is understandable, knowing its proximity to Manila Bay. We could surmise that the church itself was closer to the bay at that time. Starting from the last years of the 19th century onwards (exempting of course its destruction during World War II), repairs and renovations had been made. Today it stands placidly at M.H. del Pilar Street. The church structure is a mix of Muslim and Baroque architectures.

As a side thought, Malate still has that village feel due to the narrowness of the streets. Indeed despite the high rise buildings that deck the place, it is still one good place to visit.

[How to go to Malate Church: 1) If you will come from Luneta, a short walk through Roxas Boulevard southward would bring you to the place. 2) From Gil Puyat LRT Station, one can just ride up to Quirino LRT Station then treat one’s self with a short walk through San Andres.]

Friday, August 27, 2010

Circuiting Manila 2: Museo Pambata

A place for fun and historical enrichment of the self; for both children and adults. This is the Museo Pambata.

It is housed today on the former place of the Manila Lodge of the Elks (founded 1902), a nationalistic group of Americans in the business sector. It was designed by William Parsons in 1907 and the building was inaugurated in 1911. The place was actually part of the plans of Burnham and Anderson of restructuring Manila at that time. The building later housed the Museum of Philippine Art, then the office of the Manila Overseas Press Club, then the Museo Pambata.

* a beautiful doll with its equally beautiful Spanish costume

* one big bell close, as you can see, at a replica of a ship

* a tower I built out of blocks of wood, later destroyed by the trembling table to demonstrate the effecst of an earthquake; found at the science area

* Trailer Pransis enjoying the features of Museo Pambata

It is a multi-realm museum, ranging from culture, tradition, science, nature, art, among other. The museum features dolls dressed in different local costumes. Then there are the play areas where one can enjoy being a sailor, a fireman, a baker, a barber, or an astronaut. There is also a replica of trams that once plied the streets of Manila. An art place is also open for children to let go of their creative imaginations. The science area treats the visitors with on hand science-in-action experiments and activities. One highlight is a moon rock, a gift from the then US President Bill Clinton.

Perhaps there are many new features for the place. Too bad the museum was close when we did our re-visit. In any case, the catch here is that it is not strictly a children’s museum. Young people and adults can enjoy the place as much as children would. And by the way, the museum is now open for hosting birthday parties. Cheers for this service.

[How to go to Museo Pambata: If you have followed my earlier entry about Luneta Park, chance reader, you only have to cross Roxas Boulevard. The museum is found at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and South Drive in Ermita, Manila. Adult entrance fee then was 60 pesos. So more or less that is still the fee. A hundred pesos for each visiting person I think is enough to gain entry to the place; may sukli pa.]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Past is a Treasure To Be (Re) Discovered

* the old Liliw church, uploaded by user ‘overtureph’ at

[Better write this while the effect is still overwhelming me.]

I have earlier searched the internet for a photo of a painting of the Malate church I saw before in connection for my ‘Circuiting Manila’ series. Led to a number of online forums, I have just allowed myself to enjoy the old photos of Manila uploaded by different users.

Then I saw that photo of the Liliw Church.

The frequency of my visit to Liliw, and my familiarity of the town, might have triggered my excitement. Seeing this uploaded photo of the church in Liliw, man, this is simply awesome! I just cannot describe it. I would admit in being weird in some instances but I would no longer care if other would find me absurd now, losing myself over this seemingly simple photograph.

Perhaps it’s the perspective, the way the photo was taken. It seems that it captured the atmosphere of the place: one of simplicity and serenity. Although the date was not indicated, this might have been many years ago, judging from houses and the rough road leading to the church. Perhaps knowing that the present layout of the church grounds is quite different already, to see this old place is one great treat. I hope I am making sense here because I am really overwhelmed.

Right now I realize two things. First, that I am well entrenched in this ‘visits-to-the-past’ thing, something that I am trying to share and build up here at Back Trails. Structures of the past (and if I may be allowed to concretely date them: from the 1980s down to the pre-Spanish times), or more precisely, the architectures from our past, have now formed in me a love, and respect, towards them. I am just realizing now that I have to make some effort to teach myself at least some basic architectural concepts in order for me to appreciate more these architectures. This now makes town re-visits more and more a must.

Second, that we Filipinos, whether we are in the midst of some business ventures or abroad studying or working, should start (or for those who have started already, reinforce) our own initiatives towards learning more about our past.

Similar to the seeming irony that some people conquer math while others do not, history also is not really a boring and monotonous field of study. It may seem static at first, simply knowing about things that have been long gone or about people that are long dead. Immersing ourselves in our own history allows us first to know our roots – their struggles, cultures, traditions, even languages. Immersing ourselves in our own history facilitates a wider scope of study in order to situate ourselves in the present – to allow us to know if we, collectively, are moving towards progress, development, and freedom from the social, cultural, or political mud pits that we have faced as a country or not, and to allow us to sensibly chart our courses as citizens of the Philippines after assessing ourselves with the help of history.

In a way yes, it is pretty complex, with all those details and interconnections that lay in the background that we are to find out. But unlike other fields that concern mostly abstract connects, history is a reality, for it is by default a part of us, which we only have to tread back and learn.

I cannot boast that doing tours of places and sharing them here at Back Trails is already a success. I know that there is much to be learned about traveling and about proper documentation of tours. But the important thing here is, this a concrete way of helping myself learning our history, our past, without suffering the stigma that has been attached to ‘history classes’. This is more of an outdoor activity and I am enjoying this very much. Digging into libraries is not a lesser thing, if we only appreciate the wealth that a brief library visit can bring to those who have the heart to do so.

I hope I have not over-reacted over such a lovely picture. But personally, constantly learning about our past is now an integral part of my being, and I have no plans of putting it away. Since my elementary days I have been fond of history and the vast treasure that lay within its border. I encourage you, chance reader, especially the Filipino youth, to make your own ways of making your study of history a life-changing experience.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Circuiting Manila: Passing Luneta Park

* the infamous motorized ‘pedicabs’ which, having features very close now to tricycles, plunged into an issue which would possibly require each ‘cab’ to be registered to the LTO

* the Central United Methodist Church; first protestant church in the country; the first chapel was inaugurated in 1901, replaced with a modern structure in 1906, and turned into a cathedral by 1932; World War II came and destroyed it but was later rebuilt in 1949; name evolutions: Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Central Methodist Church, and finally, Central United Methodist Church

To simply realize that Manila is a city with a rich history of its own dating even earlier than the Spanish period is enough to make a tour of it a fulfilling one. Despite the dominating modernity that gradually dictates the feature of this city, history lurks literally on its every corner, lying in wait to be discovered by those who have the heart and interest to do so.

My Manila visits (which I shall attempt to share here) are by no means thorough, as I only been able to do so during those instances that I had to do some errands in the city. But I am glad to be able to cover some of the most interesting places to me.

* the Rizal Monument with its guards that never fail to amuse me

Perhaps one of the focal points of the city is the Luneta Park, where the great monument for Jose Rizal is found, together with some of the structures and places that are of historical interest.
Then called Bagumbayan, Luneta Park is lies side-by-side with Intramuros, and has been the execution grounds during the Spanish times. When the Americans came, the grounds together with the seaside that they face have been the place for target practicing by the American troops.

This may be no longer new but the Rizal Monument does not really stand on the place where Rizal was actually executed. If you face the monument, you can find the execution place on your left. There is a recreation I think for the execution through lights and sounds, although I did not pursue it as times in Manila has always been strictly hectic. The sculpture that deck the Rizal Monument is called ‘Motto Stella’ which was the second place winner for the contest put up precisely to have a ‘design’ of some sort on the monument. I apologize for not being able to recall the reasons for installing the second prize winner. My notes for it are probably buried in my pile of notes and documents.

* the GOMBURZA execution site; this one can already be called an obelisk I think

On the other hand, the first time – that is, with full awareness of what I was visiting – I went to the execution place of the GOMBURZA (which stands for the names of the three martyred priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora) I could not help but linger to the place and thought of the brutal execution that happened on that very spot. That might have irked my sister whom I asked to accompany me in my earlier Manila visit, who seems to have this default view that I tend to do crazy things.

They were implicated after what is now called the Cavite Mutiny (La Algarada Caviteña), which happened on January 20, 1872, had been curbed. Perhaps in light of the then brewing controversy (or rumor) of overthrowing the Spanish rule, they were the first ones to be arrested and accused as the principal agitators of the mutiny, and of the anti-Spanish crusades in general. The arrest might have been closer to Padre Jose Burgos who was known to be very active and vocal in the condemnation of the inequalities which were experienced by the Filipino priests in the administration of the parishes – a part, as it may seemed to some, of the general thrust of the Spaniards to further subdue the Filipinos. They were executed on February 17, 1872 through the use of a garrote which I believe was painful for the condemned and for those who watched the execution. I have read somewhere that Paciano Rizal have witnessed the execution of the three priests.


The notoriety of the Luneta Park for death is given more emphasis by the recent Quirino Grandstand (or Luneta Park) Hostage Drama which resulted to the death of some Hong Kong nationals and of the police hostage taker. We were around the area at that time (as we have just come out of the Philippine National Library and were headed towards Museong Pambata) and were already aware of the event. I felt like going to the place but nevertheless decided against it. The decision was wise enough as I learned later that a child bystander – a part most likely of the crowd that is called ‘mga usisero’t usisera’ – suffered a gunshot wound.

[How to go to Luneta: from ‘LRT’ (actually the Gil Puyat LRT Station) which is the hub anyway of traveling buses from Metro Manila to nearby provinces, you can simply ride the LRT and drop off at United Nations Avenue Station. From that, a short walk would bring you to Luneta.]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting Inside the San Pablo Cathedral

* the Virgin of Fatima statue, found on a side patio of the church; blessed by Bishop Pedro Bantique on October 13, 1983, and its canonical coronation held on December 8, 1985

* the temporary altar set for the cathedral; behind it, constructions (or repairs) are still ongoing

I have been loitering in the vicinity of the San Pablo Cathedral these past few weeks to hopefully come across that elusive member of the Knights of Columbus who, as have been relayed to me by a former teacher, knows a thing or two about the past of the said cathedral. In here are two snapshots of the place in two different occasions. Such places of worship (however distanced my core beliefs are now from them) still radiate awe and compels one to do some reflection.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Beautiful Manila Bay

While still in the process of retrieving the data (read photos and info) of my latest tours and escapades, it is nevertheless good to pick a photo or two of places that are both historic and memorable.

One such place is Manila Bay, which we used to frequent when there were small family outings with some relatives. The view of the wide expanse of water is, if I may be allowed to use the term, mesmerizing. According to a Teodoro Agoncillo book, the bay covers an area of 700 square miles and has a circumference of 120 miles. Such a key bay would have served as an important point of business and commerce. Once it was visited by a Chinese fleet sent by Yung Lo of China, a Ming Emperor who has just ascended to the throne, as part of regaining control over the trade in the country.

Before the end of the nineteenth century, Manila Bay has been the scene of one of the biggest battles in what has become the Spanish-American War where Commodore George Dewey of the American Asiatic Squadron literally crushed the Spanish fleet of Admiral Patricio Montojo. This Battle of Manila Bay has reached many parts of the world that even the famous writer Arthur Conan Doyle expressed delight in the US victory. Whether it was indeed a one-sided battle, let others think over it.

Later it could have been only a place of sad thoughts as one who has been alive during the Second World War could have seen from the bay the bitter battle and eventual fall of Corregidor Island, that sperm-like island at mouth of the Manila Bay.

Today Roxas Boulevard decks its shores together with some of the fine hotels and establishments. A visit of Manila Bay can be added to a tour of some of the nearby places in Manila. This I have done so but I am yet to fully collect and prepare those precious photos and info.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where is Maitim Hill?

* is this Maitim Hill?

I have made allusion to a ‘self-imposed work’ that I have been doing in the past few months already. Knowing where Maitim Hill exactly is important in that work. Here is a shot of that prominent hill near the International Rice Research Institute or IRRI which I half-doubt is the hill I am looking for. This is ridiculously near the UP Los Baños making the concealment of the San Pableño refugees and guerillas during World War II in this place, in my opinion, quite impossible. This is well within the area probably guarded by the Japanese forces maintaining the internment camp at that time. But then, I may be wrong.

Indeed, where is Maitim Hill?

A Sole Remembrance from Bauan, Batangas

One of the few memorabilia from my pre-college years. Taken after a day of snorkeling and playing patintero with the corals. This was part of a day trip to some places in Batangas. We were brought to this island off the coast of Bauan for a day of hiking and snorkeling. I wish I could go back there and refresh my memory of the travel. With me were some of my closest friends at that time. It’s sometimes amazing to realize how time flies so fast.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Play Up the Mountains: A Bagong Silang, Los Baños Experience

[Trailer Pransis Note: This is a two-part entry which I did when I was taking my last PE class (I think I was one of the oldest in class) and our visit to the place was part of our final requirements for the said subject. The photos you see here belong to my classmates, as it seemed that cameras rained that day. Finally, the text is actually lifted from the paper I submitted to our instructor as a form of reflection paper.]

A repost from Viole(n)t Mugs
March 2009

Into the Heights

It wasn’t so much of a work; in fact the whole activity was as a package of play and fun. Although it was really a required final activity for our PE 2 class, there wasn’t any atmosphere of pressure at all. Up we went to the place to spend time with the kids of Barangay Bagong Silang, Los Baños, Laguna.

* view of the mountain we were trekking

Bagong Silang

How our professor was able to track this seeming obscure place, I don’t have the least idea. The place can be reached by jeep bound for Bitin, in the town of Bay (Ba’i), Laguna. Upon reaching the premises of the MakBan Geothermal Power Plant, just past the checkpoint, a bare ground strewn with giant old pipes would greet the visitor. The walk was the next step to take.

I don’t know how long it would take to reach the place. What I know is it would take you 15 to 20 minutes of walk if you’re going down. And so perhaps it would be a bit longer on the way up as the paths are really steep.

It is an out-of-place village of sort, hidden amongst the lush greenery that is characteristic of Los Baños (one cannot help but wonder how it came to be included in the municipality of Los Baños given its distance). The people in general have amiable disposition. Personally, I didn’t have any problems as it was my second time to be there, the first being on an official ocular inspection of the place. (The ocular was a treat as well, as we enjoyed a hitched ride with a very kind man.)

* a pose with my group

The Play

I only had a general idea of the nature of the game that was shared with the kids as we were assigned to different committees. Our group, the infamous Group 2 composed of Jhoenah, Kat, Paolo, Roy, Thea, and myself, was transformed in a program committee which actually has one of the biggest (if not toughest) jobs in the activity (since we are the one responsible for creating the final report of the activities we did in class and in this final activity).

Thankfully enough, we only did some light work during the main activity and we (the group) spent much of the time talking among each other – bonding together so to speak.

The play lasted under an hour which was both beneficial to us and the kids as the place was already getting really hot. The activity was supplemented by story-telling by some of our classmates and also food trip for all of us. And I would like to believe that the eating time became the highlight of the activity – mongo, grilled fish, salty dips – it was all stomach-fulfilling.

* our PE 2 class who participated in the activity


There are two things that have made lasting memories of the activity. And these are my 1) typo-error in the certificates and 2) the tilas mishap.

I would not deny that I really like the certificate I made for the activity. It surely was good to look at since I actually included a design from the phoenix images I love very much. Nevertheless, there was one annoying flaw that a group mate observed. I have put in the wrong year! But at least it did not diminish their pleasantness.

The tilas episode was totally unexpected. We were resting outside the barangay hall uphill when I started getting itchy on some parts of my body, particularly my arms, lower left chest, and neck. It proved that na-tilas ako! I am just thankful that it was not any allergy of some sort.

In Conclusion

I would not want to eclipse the impact of the activity that we principally held there but there was more to that play and bonding with the children that I experienced.

Despite having short-term difficulties in the travel itself, the visit to the place really reconnected me with nature. Being a hardcore boy scout my since elementary days up to high school, I found it really exciting to tread bare paths again and to be surrounded by green and silence except for the sounds and songs of the animals. Nature has always made me feel at ease, in the literal sense.

Also, the activity made me realize that happiness and contentment, in a way, is relative. Despite hearing the same comments of wonder from my classmates, no one can really answer their questions except the residents themselves. How come they end up in there? Don’t they find it a little hard living in a place like that? As for me, the smiles on the face of the children, even of the adults, is answer enough for me. They are essentially satiated with the life in the heights.

Let me end this short narrative of the activity with a joke that was entertained during the boarding of the jeep that took us back to UPLB. They said that what we just did was already a combination of different PE 2 classes – walking for fitness, Philippine games, basketball, outdoor recreation, among other. True enough!

You can take a look at the souvenirs from our activity at: and

Monday, August 9, 2010

Living Life at Lodlod, Lipa City, Batangas

[Trailer Pransis Note: I found out that there have been formative signs for the creation of Back Trails in the form of PRANSIS TRAVELS Series in my Viole(n)t Mugs blog ( Although not geared towards sharing things connected to history, some of the entries I have posted for the series dealt with human experience and I think it is an important ingredient to share here. And so I shall be reposting them here to help in cleaning up my VM blog and to share those little details and thoughts in some of my trips. Some revisions and editing have been necessary for the reposted entries. Enjoy!]

A repost from Viole(n)t Mugs
August 2009

* that’s my sister on the photo; taken as we treaded the footpath towards the house of an uncle in Lodlod

* a special child I have played with in Lodlod

I haven’t gone to many places these past few months owing to some domestic responsibilities I had to attend to. And so despite my protests to come along with some relatives, I nevertheless allowed a day off from my ‘private’ life and came to celebrate the first birthday celebration of a new cousin.

There is no point in discussing here some thoughts about how the event went; they are rightfully reserved in the realms of personal journals. If my uncle is indeed happy in what he is doing right now, who am I to make any judgment of them?

Lodlod is a small barangay (I think so) in Lipa. But part of it was cut off by the recently constructed CALABARZON (Super) Highway which connects places in Batangas near the Batangas Pier to the places near the South Luzon Express Way (SLEX). The place we went to is situated beyond the highway and thus we had to make a little walk – half a kilometer at most.

The place is typical of far flung places in agricultural provinces: relatively quiet surroundings, water scarcity, and dirty kids dominating the makeshift streets, among other. At least they have made it a point to make their places more decent and look like a residential area.

This thing comes to me whenever I find myself in such ‘difficult’ places – that happiness will always be a relative thing. They seem pretty much happy with what they have there. Who am I to judge them, right? But then again, I have this other thing at the back of my mind: if only they would realize that there is still more to life than to live in semi-obscurity, I don’t think there would be any reason for them not to seek an easier life. If poverty is a blinding thing, they should not only be the ones to be blamed. The government should at least take care of these people who do not have resources to elevate their state of living. They are essentially incapable and thus the government should see this and act on them accordingly. It is not enough to see that they are happy with the kind of life that they are having now. We should at least allow them to see beyond their situation, however hard and painful it would be to them.

I look at the children, all dirty, some of them plagued by illness (I actually encountered a special child there), and wonder at that possibility that one of them could possibly excel him/herself and be of significant use to their community (or to the country) in the future. If these children will be allowed to stay in that condition, I would not be surprised at all if they end up in the lowly jobs and poor places in the country. I am not being pessimistic. I rather allow myself to speak of the things that could possibly happen; at least by doing so, I inform myself (and perhaps others) that something must be done with these poor people.

Perhaps the tranquility which welcomed me when we went there masks the real stories, the real situation of the place. By writing about the place, I hope to disentangle some of those behind-the-scene stories and move some people to help the people there.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Faces of U.P. Los Baños 8: An Addendum to the Los Baños Internment Camp

* the façade of the Dairy Husbandry in UPLB; the diamonds on the image’s either side contain the years 1939 and 1952

* a view of the road towards Putho in Los Baños, with this unidentified mountain in the background

* view of the great Mount Maquiling at sunset

* a bridge that one has to cross in going to Putho; the typical mode of transportation here is the pedicab – a bicycle with an attached sidecar; this bridge is also one of the borders of the big internment camp put up by the Japanese in WWII

* darkness closing in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Carillion Tower can be seen in the distance

Despite deeming that my tours for the Los Baños Internment Camp were quite thorough, it is always good to find new things that add up to what one has supposed to be complete. The same goes with digging in history.

As in this case, the photos here are essentially additional ones, posted here to supplement the details I have tried to share earlier regarding the WWII Japanese prison that was put up inside the UPLB Campus. One detail (or perhaps more precisely one question) that continues to nag me is the location of what they have called Maitim Hill.

The present Maitim is now a barangay in the town of Bay (Ba’i) but it could have been possible that the name as used earlier to describe something else, perhaps for that elusive hill. Brgy. Maitim is relatively far from the UPLB campus and the hill could have only been close to the Maquiling mountain range, as have been said to me by some reliable people. As to the reason why I am looking for it is that Maitim Hill has been the place where some citizens of San Pablo City, Laguna took refuge when they started fleeing the city during the tumultuous times of the Second World War.

I have been speculating that this hill refers to that isolated hill near the International Research Institute or IRRI which has a cross on top and a big antenna. But I still have misgivings about this conjecture as it was too near the UPLB campus, which was then an internment camp. And it would have only been inconvenient for the refugees as well for the WWII guerillas as, by that time, they could not afford to engage the enemies without thorough preparations.

My identification of that Maitim Hill is yet to be resolved. Things like these keep the fuel alive in me to pursue some historical details (or adventures if I may call them that). Also, it’s what keeps Back Trails alive and kicking, knowing that much can still be learned about our history, no matter how big or small the details are.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Grandeur of Manila Hotel

* behold, the Manila Hotel!

* one of the hotel’s huge halls, just forgot the name

* the best weapon: a cup, for the coffee

* made acquaintance with some of the students from the Philippine Normal University who endured my lousy discussion of my poster presentation

Perhaps once or twice, it is good to have a taste of high life. I t fine-tunes one’s behavior and compels one to exercise proper decorum. Besides hopping into some of posh hotels in Davao City a few years ago––thanks to the insight and adventurousness of my thesis adviser––the only taste of grandeur I have obtained thus far is at the Manila Hotel. Not that I checked-in into one of its rooms. A conference that I attempted to attend to starting a few years back served to effect the visits to Manila Hotel.

On my first visit a few freely-distributed reading materials shared the fact that the place is historic in its own right. It was only later, upon poking into some details here and there, that I was able to get a hold of some information. One: General Douglas MacArthur resided here prior to the Second World War. Two: the Japanese flag has flown on this hotel for the most part of the WWII. Three: there is a place called MacArthur Suite where some of his properties and mementos are found. I wonder if they can be seen by the general (visiting) public and take some pictures of them. Four: at some points in our histor y, the hotel figured in some of the activities of Presidents Marcos and Cory.

* I venture to say that the painting is an Amorsolo judging from the signature found on the lower right corner of the art piece; found at the hotel lobby

* the Manila Hotel lobby with (they say) its Doric columns; I am of the opinion that the area is more lovely with just a few lights, this was taken during a brownout; in the center of the lobby is a part of the adjacent restaurant/cafeteria of some sort

* obviously self-explanatory; perhaps what is left to be discovered is the reason/s why Jacob Dickinson put the tablet there; found on the outside wall of the hotel

* a shot of a lifetime – the Manila Hotel main entrance

As to its construction, it was made to compete with the already existing Malacañang Palace. It was opened in 1912. The construction of the hotel was actually a part of the plans for the city of Manila, thought and effected by then Governor General William Howard Taft, Daniel Burnham and William Parsons. It was Parsons who made the design of the hotel.

Also found inside is a space for what could have been the clubhouse of the Rotary Club of Manila, the first – it is said – in the country and in Asia. It was founded by Leon Lambert together with four other Americans. Their first meeting was held at the Fiesta Pavilion of this hotel, still in existence, on January 29, 1919.

We have experienced their service as far as the dining table only. The staff is generally amicable but some were not able to completely hide emotions. The receptionists were awesome although I am fully aware that they were made to be exactly like that: well-groomed and attractive. One of the few things I found amusing there were those employees cleaning the balustrades at the hotel lobby. They seemed not satisfied even if it looked like the balustrades were already shining gold!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The EDSA Shrine

* the huge and golden(?) statue of our Lady of EDSA

* a marker that commemorates the rise into power by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

* the interior of the shrine

* a crucified Christ inside is also a place of prayer and devotion

I did not discover EDSA Shrine until I graduated from high school. Having been educated in the province (well, I am still a province man anyway) I was only confined to seeing it on TV, particularly during the coverage of what turned out to be EDSA Dos.

Its mere place is a testament to its strength, as it is found on the corner of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, or EDSA, and Ortigas Avenue, one of the many places in Metro Manila where traffic and pollution are almost at a riot everyday. The name of the place (The Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA) is quite apart from its well-known moniker, which is of course EDSA Shrine. The place not only stands as a place for worship but primarily as a commemoration of the two people power that was witnessed on that very ground. Despite the noises outside, the interior has a curious serene atmosphere. Believer or non-believer, one cannot ignore that it has a place in our history.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crossing Mayapa, Calamba City, Laguna

* a haggard-looking Trailer Pransis posing for a shot together with the majestic Mount Maquiling in the background; photo taken by an ever-reluctant sister

Nature indeed has the power to override any internal turmoil, or tiredness in this case. I asked for this shot while crossing the overpass between Mayapa and Canlubang, both barangays of Calamba City, as the view of Mount Maquiling was simply irresistible. A tour of Calamba shall soon be shared here in Back Trails the moment we figure out how to extract those precious photos from a malfunctioning memory card.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bath: Los Baños-Bayan, Laguna

* one graffiti that has some sense in it

* the entrance to City of Springs Resort and Hotel

* one of the few quaint houses found in Los Baños Bayan

* old indeed but the details are still attractive

* view of the town hall

* Trailer Pransis posing at the town hall’s short flight of stairs

The ‘old’ town proper of Los Baños (commonly called ‘Bayan’) has always been a place for gathering peace-of-mind. Its overall tranquil atmosphere induces one to reflect and relax. Who says we need some expensive escape when we can readily have it for free, right beside the overwhelming Laguna de Bay (Ba’i)?

Besides the university library and the series of picnic tables at the SU lobby, Los Baños Bayan has always been my choice of place for rest and reflection. Lovers and love lives came and went, but my love for the view of the lake has never waned. I used to imagine those final scenes in ‘Noli Me Tangere’ unfolding right before my eyes - the pursuit for Elias and Ibarra, the shots fired after Elias. This must have been the lake where Jose Rizal imagined most of the scenes in his first novel. And this is one of the few connections I can have with him. One must not also forget a chapter in ‘El Filibuterismo’, devoted and named after this town of Los Baños.

Los Baños initially started as part of the then larger town of Ba’i and was then called ‘Mainit’. The presence of many hot springs prompted this name. This has caught public attraction and by 1589, public baths were already constructed by a certain Padre Pedro Bautista who also gave the name Los Baños. September 17, 1615 is a date to remember as this marked the separation of Los Baños from Ba’i under the administration of the Franciscans.

* the old public market which has remarkably clean surroundings

* one of the big houses that still carry that ‘Spanish-look’ details; too bad I can no longer adjust the brightness that obscured the details on the second floor, the ventanillas can still be seen at least

* curious designs outside a house/pool resort(?)

* although predominantly concrete, one can still discern the use of old materials in this house/pool resort(?)

* a view of one of the town’s streets

* Immaculate Concepcion Church: the original one was constructed in 1671 but burned down by fire in 1727, the present one is a ‘descendant’ of the church built in 1851

* a view of the inside of the church

* the mighty riles ng tren; view from a bridge

* a marker commemorating the first class held by the then UP College of Agriculture, now University of the Philippines – Los Baños

Although modernization has certainly crept in this town proper, the remaining old houses still carry traces of the town’s former grandeur. Some of these old houses are still occupied, as evidenced by the barking dogs that will greet you as if saying, ‘What are looking at?’, testing if one is an intruder or not. The narrow streets are also attractive and if only the houses of the past survived, it could have been a very pleasant walk. Its proximity to the shores probably made the town an important place for business, and perhaps politics: there was the old pantalan where Yangco boats used to take shelter and a curious site of the remains of summer-house of some sort of a high-ranking Spanish official. Too bad I was not able to enter the premises as it seemed a private property already.

I still carry this childish dream of buying a lot in Los Baños Bayan and constructing on it a replica of any old house that once stood on this beautiful town.

[UPLB Origins info: These are found on the marker on the site where UPCA class was first held. The first faculty members were – Edwin Bingham Copeland, Harold Cuzner, Edgar Ledyard, Caroline Ledyard, and Sam Durham. The first twelve students, on the other hand, were: Vicente Allarey, Silvestre Asuncion, Florencio Bagui, Felipe Cevallos, Amando Lapahan, Antonio Lejano, Andres Navarro, Eladio Sablan, Clodualdo Temponga, Baldomero Velasquez, Valente Villegas, and Jose Zamora.]